The Importance of Integrity in the Small Things

Rosie Ruiz won the 1980 Boston Marathon in the women’s category. And she held that title for eight days until it was determined that she had not run the entire 26.2 miles. In fact, it is likely that she ran only a half-mile after jumping onto the course. None of the other runners remembered seeing her on the course, and she crossed the finish line without any signs of fatigue, such as panting or sweating. Ruiz’s lack of integrity about a race did not end with the race. In 1982 she was arrested for embezzlement and in 1983 for involvement in a cocaine deal.

A lack of integrity in small things rarely ends with the small things. Please note: I am not suggesting that lying and deceiving others about a race is a small matter, but surely embezzlement and involvement with cocaine are more devastating. And a lack of integrity in so-called minor areas of one’s life typically grows and multiplies to other areas. Here are three common ways a lack of integrity multiplies in someone’s life:

“Little lies” rarely stop with “little lies.”

The person who thinks, “This is just a little lie,” is lying to himself. Little lies, lies the person deems to be insignificant, to friends, bosses, coworkers, or family can create a comfort with lying. And a comfort with lying will quickly escalate to more and more lying.

Laziness in one job rarely ends with laziness in only that job.

The person who thinks, “This job is not that important, so I will just do enough to get by,” teaches himself/herself a lack of discipline and work ethic. Those who don’t give their best in their current role likely won’t give their best in their next role.

Slander of one person rarely ends with the slander of that one person.

Those who tear down another person typically don’t stop with that person. Their comfort with gossip and slander consumes them. Just know that the person who slanders others to you will slander you to others.

We must beware of a lack of integrity in what we think are minor things. They are not minor things. And if they were minor things, a lack of integrity rarely ends there.